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Downtown parking garage vacancy falls as offices fill up

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Staff Report
colanews@scbiznews.com
Published Aug. 31, 2015

The vacancy rate for parking garages in downtown Columbia continued to decline this year and tenants may struggle to find convenient spaces as the office market tightens, according to a new forecast from Colliers International.

The central business district’s vacancy rate for parking garages was 22.9% at mid-year 2015, down from 29% from the previous year, and 33.3% in 2013. The parking inventory consists of more than 11,200 parking spaces in 18 garages, but  only 2,587 spaces are currently available. Of those available spaces, 80% are in garages that do not support office towers.

That is “adding greater pressure on Main Street office and retail tenants, which are finding themselves competing for parking,” Colliers said. “Additionally, as companies look to more efficiently utilize office space, employees are densifying space with less square footage resulting in a greater demand for parking than before.”

This declining vacancy mirrors the tightening office market conditions, Colliers noted. As of mid-year 2015, the office market vacancy was downtown was 10.5%, down from 11.1% the previous year.

The real estate agency said that future projects like Don Tomlin’s parking garage apartments plan may tighten the conditions even more. The City of Columbia recently signed an agreement that allows the Columbia developer to lease 425 parking spaces in the Lady Street and Washington Street parking garages for residences who will live above the garages. Current customers of those parking garages include Main Street office tenants of the Capitol Center, 1122 Lady Street and 1333 Main Street.

“Parking availability is expected to decline further throughout the next year as office occupancy increases in the CBD and housing developments progress,” Colliers said. “A need for parking exists and the CBD will likely require a new garage in the future.”

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